A new scientific paper on the implications of COVID-19 in patients with obstructive hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) was recently published in Mayo Clinic Proceedings.
New research from the Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory found that in patients with HCM, the heart increases the production of the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) RNA transcript and the translated ACE2 protein. ACE2 is present in many tissues of the body, such as lungs, arteries, heart, kidney, and intestines. In general, ACE2 helps regulate blood pressure, prevent fibrosis or hypertrophy, or constriction of blood vessels. In patients with HCM, ACE2 is thought to help compensate for the structural changes that HCM causes. ACE2 also functions as a membrane protein, where it serves as an entry point for specific substances into the cell.
So, what does this mean for patients with HCM and COVID-19?
Recent studies have shown that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in fact, uses this ACE2 membrane protein to get inside the cell. In doing this, it lowers the levels of ACE2 and its protective role against cellular damages and possibly explains the devastating effects of this virus.
Since this research shows that patients with HCM potentially have more ports-of-entry due to the increase of ACE2, we speculate the virus is able to infect cells much more quickly causing these changes to happen much faster and more severely than otherwise-healthy patients. While these findings pose an interesting role for ACE2 and COVID-19 in patients with HCM and possibly other cardiovascular diseases, whether this truly affects outcomes in these patients remains to be determined.
The full paper, first-authored by Dr. J. Martijn Bos, Lead Research Scientist of the Windland Smith Rice Sudden Death Genomics Laboratory pictured to the right, is available here. Dr. Michael J. Ackerman discusses the results and its implications for patients with HCM in this video from Mayo Clinic Proceedings and an article by Mayo Clinic's News Network about the study's findings was also published here.
Meet other people talking about HCM, other genetic heart disorders, and COVID-19 on Mayo Clinic Connect. Join the Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) group, the Heart Rhythm Conditions group, or the COVID-19 group to join the conversation, share experiences, ask questions, and discover your support network.
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